Time to Break the Criminal Enterprise of CPS

by Erin Geary

February 1, 2023

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Abbott Elementary, I was a white version of Janine. A passionate, naive, twenty-something teacher unleashed and ready to show my hard-work and dedication. I was going to be THE role model of a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher who was there to save young, untapped minds from being wasted.

However, there were things I didn’t factor into my overly optimistic fantasy. One was the initial parental mistrust of the new white teacher in a Bronzeville school. Another was my ignorance of the students’ home lives and neighborhood that loomed over even my best of teaching efforts. Still another was the behemoth known as CPS and its intractable system.

Over the course of my career, my wide-eyed optimism became rooted in reality. Still eager, my path led me from CPS to suburban public school teaching, adjunct professorship, and Catholic school teaching. I have taught virtually every grade level and enjoyed my profession so much that, post-retirement, I have come full circle by becoming a volunteer, after-school tutor for kids in the Woodlawn neighborhood. 

But, to my dismay, nothing has changed.

No doubt, Covid lockdowns made things worse. But it’s been over thirty years, and I’m seeing the same issues with the same tired excuses. 

So here I sit researching CPS, charter schools, and the Chicago Archdiocese schools thinking there’d be some light that can be passed to failing systems. But the more I dig, the more the stats confuse me. After all, any comparisons between these systems paints inaccurate pictures. For, each charter school in Chicago runs independently under the umbrella of the Chicago Board of Education; and, CPS uses different testing than the Archdiocese. 

One thing is for sure. CPS spends a ridiculous amount of money annually on per pupil education—$29,000—and there are no returns on investment. The 2020-2021 Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) scores state that 21.1% of CPS students met English/language arts (ELA) goals and 16.6% met math goals. Yet, miraculously, CPS boasted an on-time graduation rate of over eighty percent. 

See my confusion? CPS is graduating groups of students who are considered reading and math literate only in third world countries, and we are expected to cheer. 

The Chicago Teachers Union’s (CTU) solution? Throw more money at the problem. And our supposed budget conscious politicians are happy to oblige in order to gain the union’s endorsement. It’s truly criminal.

Chicago’s charter schools, on the other hand, were intended to be a panacea to provide stellar education to impoverished, minority students who struggled in traditional CPS settings. 

Remember that each publicly funded school is a separate entity not part of a district. So, in reviewing the IAR scores for 2020-2021, the best school of the bunch was Intrinsic Charter High School which had 26.4% of their students meeting ELA goals and 21.8% meeting math goals (ilga.gov). True, they can spin this information by saying their scores are better than CPS, but charter schools aren’t moving kids ahead either. 

Meanwhile, prior to Covid, the Archdiocese ACT Aspire scores (2019) were all above the national average across every discipline. Since Covid, the Archdiocese has been using i-Ready to measure student achievement. But i-Ready is not a standardized test. It is a computerized tool for teachers to show which kids need extra assistance at various points in the year. 

Nevertheless, the Archdiocese did provide a general statement in 2021 attesting to the fact that Catholic school students met “academic expectations by staying on track with their learning” (archchicago.org).

What can we glean from this information? 

A school’s performance has nothing to do with per pupil expenditure, advanced technology, or teacher salaries. If it did, then home schooled children would be at a huge disadvantage. Instead, it lies with greater parental involvement, low absenteeism rates, and expectations of excellence both academically and behaviorally. 

Parents are the number one factor in their child’s educational success. Being present to hear them read or helping with homework doesn’t cost anything. But children also need to be at school on time each day. Equally, dysfunction at home rears its ugly head in a classroom. In short, a parent makes or breaks a child’s success in school.

As far as curricula, we need to go back to basics. Get social engineering and progressive curricula out of the schools. Math is not racist. Reading Shakespeare is not racist. Writing well is not racist. People who state these things deliberately want to maintain a perpetual underclass.

Most importantly, shrugging off abominable results from CPS and continuing to raise their budget is nonsensical. CPS, charter schools, and public/parochial schools are like businesses. All receive money for a service. Are you getting what you pay for? If not, sayonara. 

This is why school choice and vouchers are the only ways to make meaningful changes. 

Parents will decide the schools that serve their children’s needs best—even if that means the voucher goes to fund a parochial school. But here’s the caveat: Parochial schools must retain their independence from the government. Clearly, they are doing just fine.

Vouchers and school choice will force competition between public, private/parochial, and charter schools. That competition will be the only means to break CTU’s grip on the status quo and give children, especially those in poverty, a chance.

Since J.B. and Lori always say that each levy imposed is “for the children,” school choice and vouchers should be a no brainer.


Comments 94

  1. Good morning John.

    God Bless you and your family. I am just so dumb founded that the American people are so dumb. They have no clue as to what has happened to the Country. We have lost it and we did about 10 years ago and actually since Lyndon Johnson if people would read History. Greece is in trouble due to the Evil man in Turkey, our schools are taken over by Evil, our Churches are closing, the Pope thinks it is okay for marriages between all kinds of humans, our Country is run by crooks like Bill Gates, George Soros and the Liberal, Communist in the Congress. It is done until Christ the King comes, I pray that I will not be here when that happens. China owns most of our Farm land it the West and most of our Real Estate in New York, Chicago and of coarse California, and yet Americans cannot go to China or Mexico without permission, if they go without papers they end up in jail, but Millions are walking in and taking over what we have work so hard for. I know of a young woman that came from Ukraine, she has a green card, rent money and FREE HEALTH CARE FROM OUR GOVERNMENT. Are you awake people? You will be the minority in your own Country and soon. So sad. We that know Christ will be okay if we follow his teachings, and let go of the love of money. Kids are inheriting money that they never worked for, they do not even care about the family that leaves them millions. That is why we are in trouble we lost our families to greed and let the Unions run our Schools. Chicago looks like Detroit already and people still Vote for idiots. So sad.

        1. SERIOUSLY? Did you even bother to read her unhinged rant? Christian Nationalism, conspiracy theories, “schools taken over by evil”- REALLY? Funny how I missed the evil on curriculum night! Prove her wrong?? This is the ravings of someone very detached from reality, mislead and living in a world that has sprinted past her, longing for a time that never existed. “Kids are inheriting money they never worked for..” HUH? What kids? What money? Is THAT what we should be worried about?? Like I said, thank god her world only exists in her terrified mind. Oh, and apparently yours…

          1. On the outside chance, Tony, that you in fact do own a bar and therefore are imbibing more alcohol than you should, thereby affecting your long term memory, let me refresh your memory. In your past musings on Kass’ comment board you said you’d never pay for his site. And if you had to, you’d be gone … since it wasn’t worth it. Well what happened? So now it’s worth it? You obviously despise Kass. You obviously take pleasure in demeaning his admirers. Are you on some mission from Wokeistan to spread THE word of the woke to us heathens and deplorables? I mean what the F are you doing here … again? Don’t you have anything better to do?And yes, I’ve gotten a hair cut. And the word for today is schlemiel. Look it up.

        2. “Scott don’t bother with Riga-Tony. His real name is Tony Cesare. Tony – or as John referred to him in the past as a “cockroach in a gas station urinal” used to troll John’s previous comment board and brag that he did so for free, and would never pay to join … but somehow always denied he was a free loader. But wait that’s not all. Tony in addition to being an all-in wokester, is also a fabulist. You see Tony Cesare used to brag on his FB page that he was the proprietor, bar tender and bouncer of Tony’s Tap in Mineral Point WI. Yes there is a Tony’s Tap in Mineral Point, but NO Tony Cesare does not own Tony’s Tap. In fact, when we called up there no one ever heard of Tony Cesare. You see Tony is a liar. He never ever owned let alone bartended in Tony’s Tap in Mineral Point (he has since removed this falsehood and actually tried to blame me and David Pearling – who was the one who first disclosed Tony Cesare’s lies – for somehow “planting” this. Of course we have the original screen shots to prove otherwise). And then according to some who actually claim to know this troll, he pushes a broom … not beers. The point is Tony Cesare AKA Riga-Tony is a troll, a liar and a fabulist. Don’t waste your time with this schlep”.

          1. Don’t you mean ‘GONIF’ Bruce? HA! Good to see you again! I commented on what I perceived to be a relatively unhinged rant, you commented on…me. Flattered! Come to the tap any time Bruce, you are always welcome. Did you ever get a hair cut?

          2. I can see that it would benefit us all to ignore that troll.

            Sad that people can be so invested in the narrative/lie, that they will scream it from the rooftops.

            All we can do is pray for Tony.

          3. “Wokeistan”, ugh. Six months later and you STILL don’t have any new material, very sad. I will neither deny nor confirm that I subscribe, because it’s irrelevant, but you are dead wrong when you state that ‘I despise Kass’, I don’t, and I’m happy he is on the mend. I despise what he’s become, another wanna be culture warrior fighting the imaginary war of ‘woke.’ How sharp is YOUR memory Bruce? I once challenged you to define ‘woke’ for me, you couldn’t. You stumbled, blah, blah, some nonsense about Mineral Lake, blah, blah. So what is ‘woke’ Bruce? It’s a tool. A massive right wing cultural wrench designed to turn heads like yours in the direction of whatever perceived grievance or ‘outrage’ the contemporary GOP wants you focused on, and it works, because yours is a very loose screw. There is a reason Fox will publish at least three columns a day focusing on ‘woke’, because it’s an effective red pill for small minds (Florida-is that you??). Challenged in your POV? Faced with something unfamiliar? Just label it WOKE and walk away. WEAK. I’ve always thought more of you Bruce, you disappoint me. Kass was once a respected locally focused writer who wasn’t afraid to challenge the establishment, now he’s hitched the proverbial wagon to ‘woke’ in the hopes of a few more subscriptions. Weak. Eleven million people in this city (sans John and his wife, who live in Indiana..) lots of stories to be told, I remain here hoping to hear a few, why are YOU here? Oh yea, ‘woke..’

        3. Scott:
          You probably know by now that Riga- Tony is really Tony Cesare, a paid perennial troll sent to disrupt Kass and his readers. He is also allegedly a child pornographer (allegedly) and a confirmed identity thief.
          Google confirmed to me that Riga-tony is, in fact. Tony Cesare. No doubt. He uses his fake name because he is either coward or has been banned under is real name.
          He used Riga-tony when he trolled my other internet sites. I have banned him.
          Can you imagine being such a coward or being so hated as is Tony Cesare? I can’t.
          For months, Tony Cesare said he was the proprietor of Tony’s Tap in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It was listed on his Facebook profile “about” page. See this link from my gardening page: https://www.gardendesignquickstartguide.com/2022/09/come-for-our-durp-burger.html
          Last August I suspected that Tony Cesare was lying. So, I called Tony’s Tap in Mineral Point and spoke to the owner, his wife, and a few of his employees. Nobody there has ever heard of Tony Cesare. Nobody! He lied.
          Tony still claims to own a bar. He doesn’t. He owns nothing. We have it from someone who knows him that he pushes a broom in a warehouse.
          Lke the trolling, lying, coward Tony Cesare is he quickly changed his Facebook “about” page. Unfortunately for him, we have all the screenshots. Please see the link above.
          For months Tony Cesare bragged that he was trolling John Kass for free. He said that he would never subscribe. That, obviously was another lie.
          Please contact me if want to see the evidence I have of Tony Cesare’s child pornography. He sent it to me last July in an attempt to intimidate. He is a deranged, bitter loser.
          I had been off of Kass for a few months, But thankfully, my good friend Bruce alerted me that the “cockroach in a gas station urinal” as Kass calls Tony Cesare, is back.
          And now, I’m back.
          TTYL “Cockroach!”

          1. DuRP! is back, gang’s all here! Yay! America’s creepiest uber driver! Strait Outta the Trailer Park! Got that grand you owe me? Vig is still running…

          2. Have anyone received any child porn from Tony Cesare a.k.a “Riga-Tony?’
            You should see the stuff he sent me unsolicited last summer before I blocked the cockroach.
            Are you going to refer him to the police? With me, it might be an issues for the FBI. It’s across state lines.

      1. Holy Cow! She’s right. Terrifying world right now. Thank God they shot down the spy balloon. A strong President would not have let it enter our air space to begin with.

    1. Well stated Helen! May I suggest you read a best seller by Jonathan Cahn, “Return of the Gods”. This explains what is really happening in our country.

    1. We could if parents supported it and pushed politicians and their school boards. But I saw a tweet from a physician complaining that after her long day, she needed to get home to help her 10-year-old with homework. As a former teacher, we got this a lot. If homework is running more than an hour a day, I can understand the complaint. However, kids need to practice on their own what had been taught in class–especially after Covid locked schools down.

      Getting into good routines of time management (homework, extra curricular, family/friend time) is important to learn to be successful as you grow older. The people that I have found who complain most are professionals, which is surprising. How did they gain the study habits to become lawyers, doctors, engineers…without learning these basic skill? I have never heard a parent complain about how much practice kids need on their teams or how late the games are scheduled. Very sad,

      1. I ran into that when I worked in a woke school district as a social worker (hint: in the ‘burbs, just outside of Austin).

        Parents had their kids scheduled so tightly that I had 4th graders with DayTimers. When I made the suggestion that a child might be anxious because she needed some down time, the parents practically went into paroxysms.

        They did NOT want to give the extra-curriculars, though, and complained vehemently over the minimal amount of homework.

          1. It depends on your definition of ‘troll.’ Does challenging the prevalent POV in the echo chamber make me a ‘troll?’ Guilty I suppose, but scroll down and you’ll see that the author and I actually agree on the bulk of her narrative about education. Now, Helen’s completely unhinged, and quite frightening rant, that’s something else entirely, and if you agree with what she has written here (and writes a similar version in every article..) then you qualify as just as unhinged as she is. Good luck with that.

          2. Ivy: Tony thinks it is his life’s mission to take on and smote all “echo chambers” – particularly one whose POV does not comport with his. You’ve heard of the “thought police” and other instruments of the authoritarian virtuous elite. Well now we the “echo chamber police” led by none other than Tony Cesare. Somehow, a site where most agree on a particular POV is an egregious offense to Tony Cesare. He has made it his life’s mission to smote such offenders. And he does so while announcing to us all, the righteousness of his mission. Me thinks that Tony has too much time on his hands.

        1. I am a Scout leader. Every year we take the Scouts to summer camp. There’s a lot to do at summer camp; meals to be cooked, eaten and cleaned up from, merit badge classes, cleaning and maintaining the campsite, after-dinner activities, etc., etc. There’s a schedule, and it’s packed.

          I used to get on the Scouts to take as many merit badges as they could, get up, get moving, etc., etc., but over the years I’ve changed my mind. The Scouts just LOVE laying in their hammocks that they’ve clustered in a group of trees and just talking. And I’ve decided that they need that a lot more than Leathercraft or Basketry merit badge. Kids are grossly overscheduled these days and a week at camp helps lower the stress at least a little bit.

      2. Maybe that’s the key to Prof Ogbu’s disturbing findings in Shaker Heights … a community with many doctors and lawyers.

        And yes I agree. It is amusing how the enlightened educators are now degrading merritt and excellence in the class room but not so on the playing fields or the basket ball court. Maybe we should apply the DEI standards to the NBA, NFL and MLB. Heck why not apply those standards to Div One basketball and football? LOL.

  2. Reminds me of the line from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around The Bend”: “You can ponder perpetual motion …”. CPS, and many public school systems around the USA, graduate students with low literacy, who have kids but not the wherewithal to help boost literacy, leading to a child that graduates with low literacy, who have kids, etc. If, as is hoped, you get some youngsters who take a liking to learning and aspire to improve themselves, they are berated for “acting” outside of their socioeconomic class, resulting in only those with a strong will – and familial support – escaping the cycle of low literacy, and the rest falling back into the perpetual norm.

    1. You are correct on this. I had a young girl when I first started teaching who I praised to her mother. The girl was excited about reading and the mom made fun of her studiousness and praised her son who was the class clown. But the time the girl I had reached 6th grade, she was running with the wrong crowd and didn’t graduate 8th grade.

      Recently, I began tutoring and brought in a squid (real) from the fish market for kids to examine, dissect, and uses 4 out of five senses. Then I had books to read to find out the answers to questions they had once examining the squid. Once again a jr. high girl was most excited. She loved the whole thing including researching. However, she was made fun of by the others when the day was done. Now, when she comes, she slumps and has a less than stellar attitude.

      It’s terrible to see that kids are beating up on each other because they actually want to learn. I’m doing my best to teach respect. It will take time.

      1. It the crab pot phenomenon. Put a bunch of live crabs in a pot to cook. Grab one to pull it out and the other crabs will grab it and pull it back down.

        Kids are not being taught to honor and respect academic achievement. They are being taught that celebrity and popularity are the things to be sought. Of course popularity has always been an issue, but the stress on athletic or other entertainment achievement over academic accomplishment has ramped up because of social media.

  3. Nothing in this Country, once it falls under government control, is as it should be. Schools are not about the children. Schools are about political agendas, control and continued enrichment of those who write the rules and the laws. That’s the criminal enterprise.

    1. Our public schools have morphed into progressive indoctrination centers. There are no more failing grades given; everyone graduates. This makes the pols look good…100% graduation rate! Just keep taxing us to oblivion for our public schools which are producing what? These are “the future leaders of America.” Scary indeed!

    2. he Chicago Way response to enrolment and proficiency going down is to throw money at the CPS. Reward the bloated administration, union leaders’ double-dipping and impossible-to- fire incompetent teachers with pay-raises and contracts given out by City officials elected by public service unions!

      Did anyone watch the clown-show “debate” last night on Channel 9? Paul Vallas was the only one who has a clue. Can he be elected? Can he change the trajectory? What kind of turn-out will there be in the primary on February 28th?

    3. Correct. This is why is it of the utmost importance for parents to stop looking at schools as babysitting and to forge positive relationships with teachers and administrators. Learning is important. Kids should not be bumper stickers that will help parents boast to other parents.

    1. Without educated kids, we will not have an educated electorate or citizens. Education is the only way out of crime and poverty. I wish more people would see that.

  4. “Parents are the number one factor in their child’s educational success”. You can substitute any word for educational or remove it all together and your point remains most important. This is the way.

  5. Great comments that I totally agree with. It is sad to interview, prospective employees that can barely write or speak English properly and the way they dress as something else. Getting back to the basics reading, writing, arithmetic, and some mechanical abilities hopefully is in the future.

  6. Thank you Ms. Geary,

    You’ve described the situation perfectly, and suggested the only remedy as virtually everything else has been tried and the adults in charge of the leviathan and the unions are so corrupt, greedy, and feckless that the children in their charge are like third in importance behind money, and the power derived from the union jobs.

    If we agree that all kids can learn, and that the vast majority can be civil and behave with decency, then status quo is no excuse. There is no panacea, but many charter and private schools have proven that committed adults can make a difference in children’s lives and move the needle in student achievement WITH PARENT BUY IN!

    That is why, despite the lower salary and prestige public schools offer, the Democrats and the unions have forced a life long liberal to come to the realization that parents and the society at large that wants the best for the children, need to provide a lifeline for the many nice kids who want to learn.

    The schools are failing our kids. Too many can read and compute even at a middle school level. This is unacceptable and put them at a distinct disadvantage in our economy and our society.

    The atrocious behavior and language that is tolerated is also ridiculous. We are essentially breeding a generation of ignorant, entitled, selfish blobs. We are doing the children such a disservice.

    As John said long ago, “A mom should be able to send her son to Leo High School”. At least in a place like that, the adults would be focused and put the young person first, and not worried about political agendas or solidifying power, at the expense of the students.

    Lots of lives will be disrupted, but we MUST put the kids first! Tear it all down!

    1. Yep. We need a big do-over. CTU will be the death knell for Illinois. $29,000/pupil even if they never attend?! Half empty school buildings? Isn’t there a politician left in Illinois who sees how atrocious this is? It’s obvious all they care about is getting re-elected by their minions. These pols have no common sense and don’t care a wit about the children or any of us. Sickening…
      I still cannot believe we re-elected these self aggrandized morons this past November. I truly feel there is no hope for this state.

    2. Kids must be first. And those that teach (parents and educators) them should be models of behavior. Too many times I have seen teachers who look like they’ve just rolled out of bed and arrive 5 minutes before the first bell.

      Teachers and parents can be engaging without needing to have youth as their Facebook friends. The line has been blurred. Mature behaving teachers and parents with high standards are the best.

  7. Truth be told! Well said Erin.

    $29K is almost three quarters of the annual tuition of our most expensive private high schools. Make the money follow the kid. AND stop the destruction of the nuclear family.

    Thanks to John & Co. for lining up some great writers during his recuperation. Heal well and soon, John.

    1. You are correct about the monies. My goodness! So many things to tackle in schools today. I don’t quite understand why if parents are already receiving government food stamps, for example, schools also have to provide breakfast and lunch. I’ll have to dig into that one more.

      In our present age, the nuclear family seems to be the last thing schools want to teach. Thus, the need for parents!

      1. I relocated west of the Mississippi, and we still run into a lot of the same issues.

        Even in this red area of the state, schools work hard to keep parents out. They use the scamdemic as an excuse, and no longer have room parents, PTA, or even allow the parents into the school buildings.

        Many of my neighbors with school aged children now homeschool, and I support them in any way I can.

        It is a pity that too many refuse to see how schools in this country are based on the Prussian model of educating widgets.

        Ms Geary, have you read the voluminous tome, _The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America_? It is available online (PDF).

  8. Thankyou Erin, hit the nail right on the head. The CPS has been failing our kids for decades, and all the politicians do, is try to throw more money to collect more union votes. It’s obviously not working, and the kids continue to suffer. Vallas has been a staunch supporter of vouchers, but the union forces have been castigating him for it over the years. I think the time has come for a new direction, one that will benefit the kids, not the union or its members! All the “progressive” (aka socialism) agenda has done is to dumb down the system and the kids, as socialist “superiors” take charge, to make us all subservient, not allowing any questioning of authority or history! At the same time, it’s helping the demise of the nuclear family. Wasn’t it Pelosi who so boldly put it – “they don’t need God, they have us in the government!” Imagine the hubris of this kind of politician, who only thinks of herself, and not her constituency! No wonder we’re in this quagmire! Thankyou for all your hard years of service…

  9. Erin, great reply – and I agree with 99.99% of it! My sole caveat is that, as the person who coordinated Proportionate Share services for private/parochial schools from our suburban school district, I saw first hand how none of them would keep children who couldn’t keep up. Has a lisp? Fine. Has a communication issue? Back to public schools. Has mild dyslexia? Back to public schools. Has difficulty with emotional regulation? Back to public schools. Has a single parent who works two jobs to afford the tuition so cannot volunteer 10 hours per week? Back to public schools. They admitted they were cherry-picking the “easy” kids. If they keep and educate them all, then I’m all for it. But if they only skim the top, and they were where I was, then no.

    1. The private schools need to have enough funding to hire special Ed teachers. Right now most can barely scrape by. With school choice/vouchers, enrollment would increase and this may be able to happen. I agree that is is the one downside to parochial education.

    2. This is very interesting to me. When I started teaching at the Catholic school, it was like the K-8 version of St. Ignatius. A Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. There was a waiting list. I had fifth graders who wanted to be pushed and competed against each other for higher scores on tests, wanted to be the one to read the most books in a quarter, and were doing logic puzzles for fun. By the time I left, with issues things flipped. Parents complained if we pushed the kids and didn’t “give” grades. There were still kids that pushed themselves but the overwhelming numbers of students we had were not pushing themselves in the same way. The waiting list dried up. We started taking kids that were having problems in the public school yet had no resources for them like they do in public schools. We, quite frankly, needed the tuition. A student had to be a harm to others to be kicked out.

      When I started we had an enrollment of 720. Fourteen years later, we were somewhere around 610. The economy hit people’s pocketbooks hard. Why pay taxes to good public schools AND pay for a Catholic school education? Hopefully, in our case, it is to get some God into them. But I’m sure there are those parents who chose Catholic over public because they didn’t want their kids around Muslim students whose population in the area was growing. Sad.

      You are bringing up excellent points regarding how to move forward. We want everyone to get a great education. And cherry picking students to have good test scores to crow about is always a danger. My hope is that with school choice, the tax monies via school choice and vouchers will follow the student wherever the parent chooses to put them. That would allow for resources for special education and for those needing counseling.

  10. Thank you for a cogent discussion of K-12 education. Iowa recently passed a law allowing state dollars to follow the student. The Des Moines Register has been vehemently against this devoting page after page trying to defeat it. I am forwarding this spot-on article to them. In the spirit of public discourse they should put it on their editorial page.

  11. Very insightful and spot on, Erin Geary.
    Thank you for serving in what was once a great and noble profession of teaching.
    My sister taught students just outside of Chicago and it really affected her, because many of her students were in home situations that she could not impact. Abuse and gang activity of some of her students kept her up at night. She is much happier in her retirement.
    Money doesn’t move the needle on improving student scores, because the money is spent on union raises and administrations. The TOP TEN pensioners in the state of Illinois are school superintendents.
    When was the last time a former CPS student won a Pulitzer or a Nobel? But, superintendents are getting $160,000-plus a year for retirement golf.
    Getting back to the basics would require students willing to learn. Sounds like about 65% of “students” are there for the day care services and NOT to learn.
    Politicians in this state throw money at education as if it were a ring toss game at a carnival.
    Ironically, that is where a lot of these kids may be working without a solid education. “Carnival barker” will put some snap into that resume’.
    On the other side of your great article is the out migration of money leaving the state, both in terms of families who fund schools and retirees who won’t let the Governor eat up their golden parachutes with high taxes.
    And if parents would pull their noses out of their phones, they might discover the dumbing down of their kids at the hands of the teachers’ unions.

  12. Excellent article! There is in my mind a problem: Education has become so political and the political elite will never do the right thing only the thing that gets them re-elected. Parents have been taken out of the equation both at the school and at home on purpose. Ignorant people are easier to herd. Recently Mayor Lightfoot was going to give class credit if students worked for her campaign. Whose bright idea was that? Just another way a political elite uses education to get elected. Vouchers would help solve many of the problems; having the political elites sign off on that idea will never happen.

  13. 100% agree that money is not the solution and parents are the key, and I applaud your acknowledgement that you were naive to students lives outside of school. You stated that to “Get social engineering and progressive curricula out of the schools..” Are you implying an emphasis on ‘social engineering’ at the grade school level has hurt basic math and reading scores? Can you provide one example of a school that has such a curriculum?

    1. There are only so many hours in a day for teachers. If teachers are good, they learn to fit social studies in an ELA lesson or couple math with science in a project. If you are a new teacher, however, that learning curve takes time. Many of the older teachers who helped with that time management retired/quit.

      CPS hired McGraw-Hill, I believe, as their social studies program for elementary/middle school. Social studies curriculum was changed (via the curriculum and instruction head at CPS) from being taught sequentially to being taught by theme. Thus, for example, kids are being taught the evils of Reconstruction before they’ve been taught about the Civil War.

      This type of skewing of history is what gets districts wanting young children to learn about white privilege without an understanding of what that even means.

  14. The article is spot on. We are reminded of what we already knew, the CTU doesn’t give a damn about the kids.
    Parental involvement in education is crucial to a child’s success and just throwing money at a problem does not solve the situation.
    Vouchers should be a choice for ALL parents who need their kids to succeed in life.

  15. The one thing stated that is so important is that the parents of successful children are involved, first and foremost. I never hear this mentioned when there are reports on the news of the young thugs who are ravishing our beautiful city and its residents. There is always somewhere else to place blame, others who are responsible and more money to throw at the problem. As I have often said, and I practiced in raising my children (and we were not wealthy) it begins in the home and with parents who truly care about their children and are willing to put the hammer down when necessary, and are generous with the hugs when needed. If you are giving birth to these little people, you must be willing to be a parent, not a friend, not a confident but a parent 24 hrs. a day. This means setting limits, time deadlines, requirements for school, attendance at school and chores around the home. We have gotten away from these basics and it shows and will continue to show until this message is hammered home to those who weep on tv and say they don’t know how it happened.

    1. Absolutely! Parents control what their kids watch, if they get a phone, how much time they spend playing video games, if they eat together as a family, etc. They set the tone of accountability and respect of elders. Parents need to get involved.

  16. I spent nine years covering Massachusetts public K – 12 schools for a monthly magazine, 2011 — 2020. All state public K – 12 school systems that accept federal money to fund them from the U.S. Department of Education need to test their kids in grades 3 – 8 annually. By the requirements of federal law — called ESSA for Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law by President Obama — the test results need to be reported to the U.S. Department of Education by demographics and ethnicity.

    In Massachusetts, the Asian kids always performed best followed by the white kids and those who are not economically disadvantaged. The lowest performers were always the African American and Latino kids and those from economically disadvantaged — poor, if you prefer — communities. Kids from Massachusetts’s cities, like Boston, Springfield and Worcester, never performed as well as kids in the ritzy suburbs around Boston.

    So the fact that Chicago’s public schools are failing their children is no surprise.

    There’s also a cultural issue, which no one wants to discuss. Asian parents don’t tolerate academic failure from their young. They pressure them to perform at the highest possible level. Parents who deliver a simple message everyday to their children — “School’s important” — are more likely to see their children succeed academically than those who don’t.

  17. For JB Pritzker and Lori Lightweight, it’s all about getting votes, not doing what’s best for the children of Chicago. It’s sad to watch. Furthermore, if 70+ pct of families in the black and hispanic communities are single parent homes, it’s obvious that there has to be a cultural shift in those communities. More access and education on birth control (not abortion), and fathers should take care of their children always, no matter what. Unless this changes, you won’t see a huge improvement in those communities in terms of education.

  18. So-called “progressives” think everything is racist. If math is racist, language and literature are racist and science is racist, what’s left? I guess in their future utopias no one will go to school, as there will be no need to learn anything. If you need to know something, just look it up on your cellphone. We’re well on our way there.

    1. When I taught at a suburban Catholic school we had a workshop given by two St. Xavier education professors. The math professor told us that learning facts was a waste of time because computers and calculators did all that. I’m too old school for that. There is a need for memorization of math facts, dates in history, poetry… We are too reliant on machines to do our thinking for us.

  19. To further develop the parental issue:

    Yes, Asian parents have academic achievement as Goal #1 in their homes. But that follows from the fact that Asians follow the traditional American culture process; get educated, get a job, get married, THEN have kids. And stay married. Most Caucasian families follow the same process. But in neighborhoods where 70% to 90% of the kids are born to mothers who didn’t get educated, never got a job, never got married and then had kids (especially the ones who have 3+ kids by 3+ men) those kids rarely get any effective support from a parent and thus rarely get a decent education. Unless they are athletically superior they won’t get out of what we used to call the ghetto. Not alive, anyway.

    If a child shows up at school with no breakfast, clothes unsuited to the weather (or the school environment), no glasses if they need them, no prospect of a decent dinner when they get home, homework not done, a parade of men he’s not related to going through his home, etc. there’s not a lot the teachers can do.

    1. I agree that teachers have an uphill climb when a child’s homelife is in shambles. Is the answer to continue to provide welfare and continue the cycle? Or do we need to start looking at breaking the cycle of poverty so those on welfare can learn a skill/gain an education?

    2. To your last point, this is an issue which is rarely, if ever, discussed when it comes to low standardized testing results for city kids or those from economically disadvantaged communities. It’s as if the people writing and administering the test don’t realize there are lifestyle/economic and cultural issues which help one set of kids succeed and another set of kids fail. And you’re right, there’s little, if anything, teachers and school administrators in economically disadvantaged communities can do. At this point, there are no answers from education experts and administrators on the best way to help kids overcome the bad set of cards they’re dealt.

      1. Honestly, the first thing we need to do is combat the feeling of the inner-city youth that they don’t have a future. They are worried about today and not focused on anything beyond that. Education leading to high school and college is a tough sell when murders in their communities happen daily, gang life is ever present and it earns a kid more money to sell drugs than work at McDonald’s (and no I’m not pushing for living wages). I’m just saying that changing the mindset into one that focuses on the future is the most difficult challenge of all.

  20. “The 2020-2021 Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) scores state that 21.1% of CPS students met English/language arts (ELA) goals and 16.6% met math goals. Yet, miraculously, CPS boasted an on-time graduation rate of over eighty percent. ” Wow! I knew it was bad but not that bad.

  21. Thank you all for reading my column. Most importantly, thank you to John for letting me write as a guest. John and his family need our prayers as he continues to heal.

    I only started writing about a year ago, and it was a dream to garner his respect. If you care to read more, please follow me at commonfolk365.substack.com.

    God bless you,
    Erin Geary

  22. Nothing new here except for an eloquent restatement of the obvious and the continued denial of such by the CPS and their woke cronies. Families count. Big time. Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed that out over 60 years ago and was skewered for saying so. The Thernstroms (decades later) – in NO Excuses – said much of the same and received the same “welcoming” as the good Senator. And of course the Nigerian American UC Berkeley anthropologist John Ogbu came to he same conclusion … but with a disturbing twist. The kids (and the gap) he studied (at the invitation of the concerned parents no less) were the children of upper middle class black doctors and lawyers in Shaker Heights Ohio. His conclusion was so disturbing – families and their focus – matter, that he was not only skewered by the very parents who invited him in to study their kids, but there was a massive attempt to discredit and “cancel” him: amongst the woke teaching elite John Ogbu, is taboo … a name never to be mentioned.

  23. I came across an analysis by another “name who shall not be mentioned” … the great black scholar Thomas Sowell. He apparently agrees with you. He points out that in 1938, at the height racist animus in the US, the proportion of black students attending New York City’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School was almost as high as their representation in New York City’s population. But after the “benefits” of the Great Society, that by 1971 the proportion of black students attending Stuyvesant had fallen to one-tenth the 1938 proportion. So what changed? Prof. Sowell believes it was the break up of the black family encouraged by the incentives of LBJ’s Great Society.

    1. You are spot on, Bruce. The schools and the education system have given “Riga-tony:” a high school dropout, broom pushing identity thief.
      How about the next time I’m in Chicago, we go to his famous bar? Or can we? Where is it? Tony?

  24. Great article , Erin. Thank you for your many years of teaching and for your insight. I agree that Parents are the number one key to a child’s success in school. And Parents are also key to a child living a healthy, productive life. Unfortunately, there is peer pressure and bullying across the board but that started decades ago.

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